Well, my wish to eat a fresh feijoa has come true. They're just at the beginning of their season (harvested in fall), and I found a few at the store a few days ago. They're not exactly perfectly ripe, but Sarah P-C picked out a couple that were mostly ripe that I could try.
SO - here's what you do - you slice the fruit in half (how come I didn't take a picture of the whole fruit?) as in the top picture. Then you scoop out the flesh and eat it - resulting in the last picture, just the skin.
If you need yet another reason to come to NZ, come to taste feijoas.
Today (Thursday), Vayu and I drove in to Nelson to meet up with the others from training who are still around, including (above): Bela, Georgie, Sarah C, Vayu and me.
We sat outside this lovely little cafe called Deville on New Street.
It was great to just relax and talk about what we'd learned and - to just be together.
Bela goes back to China on Sunday. Georgie lives in Nelson, so she's home. Sarah C has a new job building a garden for a woman in Nelson. Vayu is staying through May (and then will head back to Busan, Korea - say "poo-SAHN").
This beautiful little bird accidentally flew in to our shala lounge/kitchen area the other day and couldn't find its way back out. It actually flew in to the sliding door window and seemed quite frightened after landing on the couch nearby.
I slowly walked over to it, and gently picked it up in my hands, hardly believing it was letting me touch it.
Then, I walked to the door and outside and placed him on a low branch, but then thought it'd be better to put him up higher (with cats around), and I did.
Bless him, he sat on that little perch for maybe 10 minutes, and then Vayu saw him fly away.
His nervous system must have been overwhelmed by the stress of what happened and he needed to rest...
... hmmm.... perhaps similar to us humans when we get overstressed...
Top picture shows many of the people at the music festival, and in the background you see the marimba band playing. Second picture was taken outside the meditation room (from the last set of pictures) where the prayer wheels are situated; you spin them. Painted between them is the mantra, "Om Mane Padme Hum." (This is the Tibetan way of saying it; some say it's just "Om Mane Padme Om.") See http://dharma-haven.org/tibetan/meaning-of-om-mani-padme-hung.htm. The mantra originated in India in Sanskrit; one translation is, "The Divine resides in the lotus of my heart."
Anyway, when you spin the prayer wheels with the mantra painted on them, you are sending out wishes and energy to liberate all souls from suffering, and offering compassion to/for all.
The third picture is a very young girl (perhaps 8 years old) walking on very tall stilts; she walked all over the place without any problem with balance.
Fourth picture is a ceramic "paint the deity" activity.
Lastly, there's a picture of a young woman in some kind of costume - not sure what she was supposed to be.
Haven't written much lately, perhaps because this week is focused on practice... not just asana practice, but meditation, pranayama, chanting, and svadhyaya (self-study).
The early practice is at 7 AM (includes about 12 or 13 people), after which we meet at 8:45 for pranayama and chanting. The later practice (12-14 people; this is the asana practice I'm participating in) begins around 9:15 or so.
Most people are staying in places away from Stillpoint, though many of them hang around after practice/etc. to have chai tea and talk - and to just enjoy breathing the fresh air and scenery here.
Afternoons are for study, reading, resting, and preparing dinner, though yesterday, Vayu and I also drove in toward Nelson to see Sabine. She went to stay at a hotel for a few days after the other part of the training was over, before she her trip back to Germany. It was great to have time to talk in a relaxed atmosphere.
Today, I spent most of the study time reading Seeing Yoga, by Swami Nityamuktananda. It is "a contemplation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras." The Swami is German by birth, and naturalized British. She has a varied background, including university studies (M.A. Theology/Education; Ph.D. Philosophy), and she has also studied ceramics, psychology, art, design, and various complementary medicines, including Shiatsu and Zen.
Unfortunately, her books are difficult, if not impossible to find in the U.S.
She comes to New Zealand to teach the philosophy part of the Level 2 training at Stillpoint.
From reading just this book (she has another book on The Five Elements), she has quite a way of relating deep information intelligently and accessibly.
Back to more mundane, but fun things... Tonight, Takako (here from Japan - she was also here last year when Tim and I were here, and she asked specifically how Tim is doing : ) ) cooked a wonderful tofu and vegetable curry. Takako is a wonderfully bright, pure-loving person. She LOVES chocolate (milk chocolate, that is), and often leaves a couple of pieces in the shala for Manju (or for John and Lucy when they're teaching).
Walking back to my room tonight, I saw the waxing moon just hovering over the horizon to the west - so bright that it blocked out many stars in its vicinity. On the opposite side of the sky, the stars were much more clear, including the southern cross.
It's amazing how easily we get "separated" from the sky when we live in or near big cities, and the stars aren't as visible. Takako says she can't see the stars at all in Tokyo. It's sad, really. They're up there every night, wanting to be seen.